An engaging art novel turned travel guide, not to places, but to worlds and ways of travel.
Grabeland takes place in a country that no longer exists, in a culture rooted in soil and projections. The story tours the inner exiles of its characters as they test the limitations of their actual existence. Focusing on Germany and The United States, Grabeland dramatizes the formation of national identity and ultimately its dissolution through an accumulation of personal and collective experiences, anecdotes, accidents, propaganda, falsifications, histories, victimizations, inventions, dreams, and hopes.
I can think of no other visual artists who could synthesize their practice and emerge with a novel this good. They achieve what all art aims for—a pulse which keeps each page alive. This pulse creates a tension between the strange and the pure, between the compelling and the mundane—page-by-page it reminds me of Sebald. The few days I spent wandering its pages were precious.
eteam interviewed by Alex Teplitzky!
Alex—You didn’t start off thinking you were going to write a book about all this, let alone a fictional book, right?
Franziska—We documented everything with video and photo cameras. We thought we would produce either a one-channel narrative or a multi-channel installation, and started to write a voice over. After 150 pages of writing, we knew it was way too long for a video, and we hadn’t even started editing any of the video.
Hajoe—It felt more appropriate to describe the whole process over the many years in the form of a written text as opposed to moving image.
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